Pairing wines with music — my two passions — has long been something I’ve done in my head. To be able to combine the two at last year’s inaugural Interstellar Rodeo in Winnipeg was a dream come true.

Once again, organizers have delivered a stunning lineup of artists that run the gamut in style and origin — some will be familiar, while others will become new favourites. In choosing the wines for this year’s festival I once again tried to mirror that diversity, tried to capture the character and energy of the artists.
Like musicians, the best winemakers try to capture the spirit of where they’re from, of who they are. Have a listen. Raise a glass. Enjoy.

Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson
Winnipeg Free Press wine writer
Interstellar Rodeo wine curator
Unemployed drummer for hire

House Red
Norton Finca La Colonia Malbec – Argentina

This full-bodied red brings big, bright blackberry flavours that are sure to please the palate while taking in some live music outdoors. A splash of acidity and no oak make the Finca La Colonia, produced with native yeasts and minimal intervention, a fun, fresh red.

Available at The Winehouse

House White
Trapiche Astica Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Argentina

A 60-40 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, this unoaked Argentine white is pure summer in a glass. Fresh citrus and green apple notes are crisp and clean, with the Semillon adding some depth on the light-plus bodied palate.

Available at Banville & Jones

House Sparkling
Castellblanc NV Extra Brut Cava – Spain

Equal parts Parellada, Xarel-Lo and Macabeo — the indigenous grapes typically used to make Cava — this Spanish bubbly brings bright effervescence and a great balance of lemon rind, lime, chalky and green apple skin notes. Celebrate summer and great music.

Available at Kenaston Wine Market




The Strumbellas
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava – Catalunya, Spain

What better way to kick off Interstellar Rodeo than with some celebratory bubbly and The Strumbellas? With their song “Spirits” having gone gold this year in Canada, there’s every reason to raise a glass of some killer Spanish cava to their anthemic, hook-laden singalongs. A blend of three indigenous Spanish grapes, the Segura Viudas Brut Reserva cava brings a fun, effervescent energy on the palate — the same way The Strumbellas bring it in your ears.

Available at Banville & Jones and at Manitoba Liquor Mart 

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
Half Pints Interstellar Wheat – Winnipeg

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats have been tearing it up as of late. Their smash hit S.O.B. garnered the Denver-based group plenty of attention for their roots-infused soul music and Rateliff’s growly vocal. Interstellar Rodeo’s feature beer, brewed right here in Winnipeg, brings plenty of wheat and two kinds of hops in a fresh, easy-going and highly drinkable style.
Crafted especially for Interstellar Rodeo 2016

Serena Ryder
Cave Spring Gamay – Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

Serena Ryder is a Canadian treasure. Her beyond-her-years soulful voice and pop-driven songwriting brings a fun, playful vibe to everything she does. Cave Spring’s Gamay manages the same feat, bringing a freshness that makes way for surprising depth and complexity. It’s a light, vibrant red wine from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula that’s as popular with wine neophytes as it is with wine geeks.

Available at The Winehouse




The Wet Secrets
Sibling Rivalry Pink – Niagara Peninsula, Ontario

The Speck Brothers of Niagara winery Henry of Pelham got together and decided to make some fun wine on the side under the Sibling Rivalry moniker. It’s all about the sum of the parts — in this case a blend of Cabernet, Gamay and Merlot — making for a fresh, approachable dry rosé with layers of red fruit notes. Edmonton’s The Wet Secrets, layer instruments and voices in a fun package with plenty of energy.

Available at Kenaston Wine Market

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
The Ned Sauvignon Blanc – Marlborough, New Zealand

There’s a vibrant, electricity to the music of Thao Nguyen and her Get Down Stay Down. Their latest, this year’s critically acclaimed A Man Alive, is tightly wound, with great intensity and focus. Similarly, The Ned Sauvignon Blanc brings fresh, racy fruit flavours and just enough fresh acidity to provide verve and backbone.

Available at The Winehouse

Whispering Tree Chardonnay – Columbia Valley, Washington State

Skydiggers. Classic. For nearly 30 years this roots outfit has been the portrait of consistency, with scads of records under their belts and hundreds, if not thousands, of memorable performances across the country and beyond. Their latest record, Here Without You: The Songs of Gene Clark, is classic Skydiggers. The Whispering Tree Chardonnay is a classic example of the workhorse, stalwart grape — ripe, textured, and balanced, with textbook flavours.

Available at The Winehouse

Fantastic Negrito
Tinto Portada Winemakers Selection Red – Lisboa, Portugal

Fantastic Negrito frontman Xavier Dphrepaulez’s backstory is incredible: a failed record deal in the 1990s, a car crash that put him in a coma and some poor business deals threw this soulful singer-songwriter more than a few curveballs. The Tinto Portada, a red blend of indigenous Portuguese grapes, is a rustic, earthy red that transcends trends and drama —it’s honest, heartfelt and full of soul, like the music of Fantastic Negrito.

Available at Banville & Jones

Margo Price
The Curator White – Swartland, South Africa

Fresh, pretty, twangy acidity and packing a punch — these descriptors could describe either Margo Price’s down-home country vibe or The Curator white’s flavour profile. Price’s old-time sensibilities are given a modern sheen in her music, while The Curator — a blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Semillon — is a decidedly modern white with classic winemaking techniques.

Available at Banville & Jones

La Folle Noire D’Ambat Le Roc – Fronton, France

These Chicago alternative roots-rock icons have never been afraid to push the boundaries, yet manage to retain a signature sound that’s as catchy as it is edgy. The Folle Noire D’Ambat is made from the Negrette grape; it’s a natural wine that plays by its own rules yet is highly drinkable/approachable — that same uncompromising spirit embodied in Wilco’s music.

Available at Kenaston Wine Market




Meander Chenin Blanc/Sauvignon Blanc – Breedekloof, South Africa

A little bit roots, a little bit pop and a whole lot of charisma — Aussie singer-songwriter/funny man/crooner Henry Wagons has got it all. He sings songs we can all relate to — the humble horrors of a hangover, lost love, and yearning — yet does so with a levity that refreshes. The Meander Chenin Blanc/Sauvignon Blanc blend brings depth of fresh fruit and verve while retaining complexity.

Available at Kenaston Wine Market

Sam Outlaw
Long Barn Pinot Noir – California


Alta Alella AA Privat Pansa Blanca

Fans of Wintersleep are quick to praise the Halifax band’s poignant songwriting with its driving, angular rhythms that manage to retain an earnest, heartfelt sentiment throughout. This will be one of the big “discovery” bands at Interstellar Rodeo Winnipeg; similarly, this pairing might just be the coming-out party of this organic Xarel-Lo – an indigenous Spanish grape variety mainly used in the production of Cava, Spanish sparkling wine. Like Wintersleep, the Pansa Blanca is great fun, but with nervy focus and vibrant, racy balance that’s sure to please the masses.

Available at Kenaston Wine Market

Lee Fields and the Expressions
Quails’ Gate Chasselas/Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris – Okanagan Valley, B.C.

For over four decades, Lee Fields and the Expressions have been bringing their soul revue to the masses. Old school instrumentation and Fields’ honest delivery gets the crowd moving in a big way. It’s crowd-pleasing fun, melding gospel, soul, funk and R&B in an inimitable package. Quails Gate’s Chasselas/Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris is vibrant, lively, and a crowd-pleaser, bringing the complete package of ripe fruit, acidity and spice in a light-bodied white wine that’s bound to be a hit for a warm summer evening.

Available at Kenaston Wine Market and at Manitoba Liquor Mart

Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine Côtes Du Rhône – Rhône Valley, France

Chemistry — not every band can claim to have it, and nearly none can claim to have it in spades like the husband-and-wife duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. Their twang-driven brand of singer-songwriter tunes speaks to the power of harmony and of partnership. The Lafond Roc-Epine Côtes Du Rhône, meanwhile, recalls those same virtues — a Grenache-Syrah blend, everything works in harmony, with rustic, Old World charm doing well with up-front palatable New World fruit.

Available at Banville & Jones

Alias Cabernet Sauvignon – California

If you were to look up harmony in the dictionary, you just might find a photo of Neko Case, k.d. lang and Laura Veirs. Similarly, the winemakers at Alias, which started as a secret side project between three collaborators — like Case/lang/Veirs — have created wines like their Cabernet Sauvignon, which brings with a great harmony of fresh fruit, modest oak, subtle tannin and complexity. But it’s all still fun.

Available at Banville & Jones